Kanetake, Ione

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Making her first pair of hand-stitched slippers in 1974, Ione was born in Hilo and raised in Menlo Park, CA. She graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in art and industrial art design. She returned to Hilo in 1972.

Ione describes how she began making slippers and what it took to make a business out of them: “My first pair of slippers were very crude. I started making them full-time in 1984 so I could work out of my home and be a ‘stay at home’ mom. I struggled to make them with a lightweight Kenmore sewing machine in the beginning. I had to make the decision to move forward with my fledging business from being a ‘hobby’ to a viable way to make a living. Purchasing a heavy-duty industrial machine changed my entire production. It took some time to get used to it. Always maintaining it carefully, I’ve been able to make thousands of slippers over the years. It’s truly a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to know my slippers have been enjoyed around the world!”

Ione enjoys spending time with her married daughter and three grandchildren as well as her partner of 44 years. She has numerous rescue animals including cats, a dog, and a “quiet” rooster.

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